Health Policy Update for Monday, April 12

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, April 12.

The White House

COVID-19

Health Policy and Budget News

  • The Biden administration has released its proposed FY 2022 discretionary budget, which addresses, among other things, many aspects of health care policy.  Find the news release announcing the proposed budget here and the budget document itself here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

COVID-19

Proposed Rules

  • CMS has published a special edition of its online publication MLN Connects devoted entirely to its recently published regulations proposing FY 2022 Medicare payments for skilled nursing facilities, hospice providers, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and inpatient psychiatric facilities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

Study of Cardiac Telehealth Yields Interesting Results

Increased use of telehealth among cardiac patients as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has produced some interesting results.

According to a study published by JAMA Open Network,

…[cardiology] patients using COVID-era remote visits were more likely to be Asian, Black, or Hispanic individuals, have private insurance, and have cardiovascular comorbidities. Compared with pre-COVID in-person visits, clinicians during COVID-era video and telephone visits had a significantly lower odds of ordering any medication as well as most tests.

The use of telehealth has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of temporary Medicare regulations that encourage the use of telehealth as an alternative to visits to doctors’ offices.

Learn more about the study, how it was conducted, its limits, and the implications of its findings in the JAMA Open Network study “Patient Use and Clinical Practice Patterns of Remote Cardiology Clinic Visits in the Era of COVID-19.”…

Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 8

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 8.

Provider Relief Fund

  • The Provider Relief Fund web page has been updated to announce a webinar next Tuesday, April 13 about the HRSA COVID-19 uninsured program under which participating providers are reimbursed at Medicare rates for testing, treating, and administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals.  Go here for further information (in the shaded box labeled “update”).

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

COVID-19

  • CMS has added 24 new audiology and speech language pathology services to its list of telehealth services covered during the COVID-19 emergency.  Go here to find the updated list of telehealth services authorized during the pandemic.

Proposed Rules

  • CMS has published its proposed FY 2022 skilled nursing facility prospective payment system rule.  Learn more about the proposed rule from this CMS fact sheet and from the proposed rule itself.
  • CMS has published its proposed FY 2022 hospice wage index and payment update, hospice conditions of participation updates, and hospice and home health quality reporting program requirements.  Learn more the CMS fact sheet from this Federal Register notice.

Health Policy News

  • CMS will hold a webinar

Health Policy Update for Wednesday, April 7

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7.

The White House

Health Policy News

President Biden’s first budget proposal is expected to be released this Friday, April 9.  It could have important policy implications for health care providers of all types.

COVID-19

The White House has posted a transcript of the April 7 press briefing provided by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA has published a notice titled “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:  Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance;” the announcement “…defines the framework, policy details, and requirements for determining the eligibility of safe opening and operation work and costs under the PA [Public Assistance] Program.”  Authorized by the declaration of a national emergency, FEMA will reimburse selected entities for “…the safe opening and operation of eligible facilities” under its public assistance program.  Generally, such facilities are owned and operated by state and local governments, but in some cases those entities may contract for such operations with private, non-profit organizations, which would be eligible for such assistance.  FEMA payments under this program are made only to state and local governments, which then …

MedPAC Meets

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss various Medicare payment issues.

Among the issues discussed at MedPAC’s April meeting were:

  • Medicare skilled nursing facility value-based purchased program.
  • Medicare alternative payment models (APMs).
  • Medicare Advantage benchmark policy.
  • Medicare indirect medical education (Medicare IME) payments.
  • Medicare vaccine coverage and payments.
  • Medicare payment for prescription drugs prescribed on an outpatient basis.
  • Private equity and Medicare.
  • Medicare clinical laboratory fee schedule.

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving Medicare.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy.

Go here for links to the policy briefs and presentations that supported MedPAC’s discussion of these issues.…